It is impossible to venture into the task of understanding a place if you don’t first understand its food. So many customs, traditions and folklore revolve around gastronomy that it is impossible to separate them from the society of which they are a part. And of course Mexico is no exception How could we understand Mexico and Mexicans without understanding the taco? How to explain Colonial Mexico without mole or chiles en nogada?Simply impossible.
That’s why today in the most Mexican month of the year we want to share with our guests a little bit of our culture through5 typical Mexican dishes without which our country is practically incomprehensible.
1. Chiles en nogada
The traditional dish of these dates in our country are these famous chiles rellenos. Of uncertain origin, there are at least two legends about the origin of this dish, the best known is the one that tells how the Augustinian mothers of the convento de Santa Mónica en Puebla created this dish to pay homage to Agustín de Iturbide’s Trigarante army as it passed through the city, using the colors of the flag of this army on the dish and giving color to this representative of our culture. The second and more romantic one is described by the famous writer Artemio de Valle-Arizpe. Who relates that in this same army there were three soldiers whose girlfriends lived in the city. Excited about the Independence Day and the safe return of their sweethearts, they decided to create a dish to decorate them. Each one chose an ingredient representing the color of the army and its flag and, entrusted to the Virgin of the Rosary and San Pascual Bailon, they set out to cook, giving birth to this unique dish, unmistakably representative of our history and tradition.
Prepare your own chiles en nogada:
The origin of this dish, recognized by UNESCO as cultural heritage of humanity, has its origins beyond the origins of our country, as the first data that can be collected about it, come from the Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva España, by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún. Used as a dish-offering to Moctezuma, it was known as chilmulli or chilmole (chili sauce) and was served to accompany meats such as turkey, Xoloitzcuintle or Iguana. Over the years and centuries, of course, the dish has changed many times, the most famous version being mole poblano, a city that, as we can see in its recipes, is intimately linked not only to the political and military history of our country but also to its gastronomic history, without which it would be impossible to understand our Mexico.
Learn the recipe for the traditional mole poblano:
The history of the taco, like most of the cultural and gastronomic expressions that emerged before the clash of Hispanic and pre-Columbian cultures, is diffuse, however it seems to have originated in pre-Hispanic times, as it was a simple dish to transport in an itacate, it became extremely popular because it made it easier for women to take this food to the countryside. Also easy to consume in the countryside, it is very likely that tacos, or their pre-Hispanic precursors, used guajolote (turkey) and xoloitzcuintle meat, since these are two of the animals domesticated by the indigenous societies of the time. It is also possible that in other areas, such as Oaxaca, chapulines tacos were consumed, an exotic delicacy that today has become popular alongside the traditional Oaxacan drink, mezcal.
Tacos al pastor recipe:
4. Cochinita Pibil
Cochinita, an emblematic and traditional dish of the Yucatan peninsula, is a dish of mestizo origin. It is said that the peninsula was the first place in Mexico where pork was known, hence the origin of some traditional dishes of the region such as beans with pork or the same cochinita. The term “Pibil” is a cooking technique; and has its origins in the Mayan word “Pib” which means buried. This is a cooking technique that is carried out by burying the food in a hole that is dug in the ground to which wood from local trees such as Catzim and Habim is placed, the fire is lit in the hole and once the wood has been consumed and the stones are red hot, banana leaves are placed one by one to wrap the pork or chicken meat.
Learn about the original recipe for cochinita:
Pozole is another dish of pre-Hispanic origin that is still consumed in our country. This corn-based broth has its origins in the Náhuatlbecause the word means ‘foam’, this is due to the fact that it is prepared with grains of a special corn called cacahuazintle, The corn kernels are boiled for two hours in a solution of water with calcium oxide, in this way they lose the fibrous husk that covers them and when they boil they open like a flower, which gives them a foamy appearance.
Apparently the pre-Hispanic origin of this dish goes back to the human sacrifices that the Aztecs offered to their deities, where it seems that this dish was made with the human flesh of the winners of the famous Ball game, Bernal Díaz del Castillo, the great chronicler of the colony, says in his work True History of New Spain: “It is said that Montezuma eats human flesh, but I have never seen it.” Whatever the true origin of this dish, today it is served with a mixture of European and Asian ingredients such as pork. Lettuce and spices.
Prepare a traditional Mexican pozole today:
As can be perceived in the history of each of these dishes, the history of Mexico is full of fusions, of millenary history, of ingredients that come from all over the world, and that is how our country is, a land of miscegenation.